While the small Irish village of Cong provided the quaint and picturesque atmosphere director John Ford wanted for his 1951 classic “The Quiet Man,” the film itself gave Cong a new and lasting tourism industry.
“The Quiet Man” tells the tale of a retired American boxer who has moved to an Irish village called Innisfree and falls in love with local beauty Mary Kate Danaher. The film starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and is noted for its stunning portrayal of Ireland. Ford won his record fourth Academy Award for Best Director for "The Quiet Man" while the film also won the award for best cinematography. The pure beauty of Cong allowed the filmmakers to capture what seems like a utopian Irish village.
Lack of hotel accommodation kept Ford from shooting “The Quiet Man” in his father’s birthplace, Spiddle, so Ford had to ‘settle’ for Cong which housed Ashford Castle, currently a five star hotel. The village wound up being exactly what Ford needed and Cong itself would never be quite the same after.
Cong was still without electricity before the film crew and their families arrived but, “The Quiet Man” production needed electricity. Cong happily obliged and rumor has it that John Ford himself was first to turn on the electricity in the village. John Wayne's son was there and recalled the locals' humorous reaction to getting electricity.
“Cong got electricity while we were there. This was in 1951. I remember they had the lights on the wires all around the town square and the people were dancing, the people were very, very happy," he said, but adding, "Then they found out that they had to pay for this electricity. They said, 'well, we don't need it, get rid of it'."
“The Quiet Man” more importantly put Cong on the map for many outsiders.
Many people, most of whom would have never heard of Cong, rushed to the village solely because of what they saw in “the Quiet Man.”
The film’s success has allowed Gerry and Margaret Collins to make a living as museum and holiday center operators. They estimated that nearly 50,000 people visit Cong every year and most of them have been influenced by “The Quiet Man.”
They explained that, "They're very important to the economy of Cong. I reckon 80 or 90 percent of the people that are coming into Cong are 'Quiet Man' enthusiasts. It's really, really great for Cong."
"Every minute of every day, somewhere in the world, 'The Quiet Man' is shown. Somebody is watching Cong in The Quiet Man and watching Ireland, and it's been the best promoter of Ireland."
"One of the guidebooks, the Rough Guide, said that Cong is stuck in the '50s, but I think it's a great thing if they're stuck in the '50s. That's what tourists want to see. So what?"
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